Benji Marshall is leaving the West Tigers. AP Photo/Tertius Pickard

Benji Marshall quits rugby league to chase All Black's World Cup spot

This guy has a dazzling array of flicks and would command a hefty paycheque if the French Top 14 comes calling.

BENJI MARSHALL HAS stepped into the revolving rugby league/union door for the first time and alerted a host of top Super Rugby and French Top 14 sides in the process.

The 28-year-old from New Zealand has told the West Tigers, his NRL club in Australia, that he wants an early release from his contract.

Teammate Robbie Farrah, who will captain the NSW Blues in the upcoming State of Origin clash Down Under, was disappointed to hear of Marshall’s intentions. He said, “It’s not the best scenario. I always thought Benji would be there, playing out his career with me. Unfortunately, that’s not to be… He’s made his decision and I support him in it.”

Marshall, who is an effective goalkicker, made his debut for the West Tigers in 2003 and got his international call-up for New Zealand in 2005. He captained his country to World Cup success in 2008.

Former Leinster coach Michael Cheika is now coaching at the Waratahs, said to be Marshall’s preferred option. Cheika has already declared his interest in signing Kurtley Beale, unwanted by Melbourne Rebels, and linking him up with another league convert — the winger that stunned the British and Irish Lions — Israel Folau.

‘Tah’s chief executive Jason Allen said, “We’ve been chatting with his manager now for a couple of years and we are definitely interested in bringing Benji Marshall to the Waratahs.”

The Australia franchise face opposition from the Auckland Blues. Their coach, John Kirwan told Fairfax Media:

I’ve spoken to his manager and we’re part of what he is thinking moving forward. We’re in the mix I’m sure. He’ll be assessing what’s on the table and I’m sure the Blues aren’t the only people talking to him.”

The other avenues open to Marshall are the Top League in Japan and the French Top 14, which is not restricted to the salary caps that often impinge on the recruitment plans of Pro12, Premiership and Super Rugby sides.

Marshall could play in the centre or at flyhalf for any side he signs for. Hopes of playing for the All Blacks in 2015 may be stretching it at present but Dan Carter will be 33 by the time the tournament comes around and Beauden Barrett is just 22 and a year into his fledgling international career. The other AB option at 10 is the diminutive Aaron Cruden.

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